History of Conservatism
If historical mindedness “is the superior way to make sense of reality,” then why is Carlson “troubled by the growing interest of American conservatives in the history of their cause?” This is either contradictory, or – in the mind of Carlson – conservatives are unable to make sense of reality. This is a deeply troubling introduction to a rather biased article based upon the premise that conservatism is based on illegitimate problems and is therefore dying out. Carlson argues that Libertarians “grounding in Old Europe gave them a stronger sense of history [and] a deeper perception that allowed them to see beyond certain superficialities” that are obviously tainting the rest of the conservative party. Carlson argues that Fusionism is its own brand of conservatism, linking traditionalism with libertarianism. I would argue that Fusionism is Conservatism: linking Judeo-Christian traditions, American exceptionalism, and libertarianism.
Carlson emphatically states that “the Reagan Era is over [it has become] pretty well drubbed.” If Conservatism can outlast eight years of Clinton and Gore, why can’t it outlast Obama? George W. Bush was able to create a four-stranded coalition much like Reagan, who is to say this can’t occur once again. Carlson castigates Republican ideals, the Reagan Era, and George W. Bush in explaining all that is wrong with America (he calls it the “Where are we now?” section). This article was written in 2009, during Obama’s first year of office. Carlson’s so-called “Age of Obama” has done little to change any of the “problems” in America despite Obama having his way over the past few years. I wonder if Carlson would still see an “Age of Obama” following the “Reagan Era,” or if he – like many liberals – would be disappointed that Obama has not brought substantial positive chage? It is too bad this article isn’t more recent. As for Carlson’s comments about conservatives embracing forms of distributism and communitarianism alongside cultural pessimism, I highly doubt these will occur. These three ideas contain conflicting ideals, and these three ideas only speak to an extremely small minority within the current conservative party.
Republicans, Democrats, and the Constitution/Founders
I found Ken Taylor’s articles to be well written, open in their bias, and historically founded. His assertions regarding the Founding Fathers, fun control, and Thanksgiving seem rather straight-forward. While I found parts of Scott’s and the Optimistic Conservative’s articles well written, I hold reservations regarding both.
Scott’s article about three types of Democrats – he broke them up by their level of adherence to the Constitution – has great potential. I agree with most of his assertions regarding the first two types of Democrats, but I have reservations regarding the third. “Open Opponents” to the Constitution will continue to fight against a document they regard as impeding progress, but at least they are open about their views and individuals electing them know this and are able to vote accordingly. “So-to-Speak Supporters” of the Constitution are epitomized by FDR and Obama. They oppose the Constitution as much as the first group, but understand how awful this sounds and therefore mask their true feelings in distastefully vague rhetoric in order to further their purpose to wholly disregard the Constitution in order to make way for liberal “progress.” Scott argues that “Forthright Supporters” of the Constitution are few and far between in the Democratic Party because of inherently conflicting ideals. He proceeds to explain why – in his opinion – Democrats simply can’t uphold the Constitution. This is simply not true. Just because liberals and conservatives disagree on most every issue does not mean that neither party is willing to (or has the capability of ) adhering to the Constitution. I would definitely add that there are three types of Republicans: “Forthright Supporters” like the Tea Party and the New Right, “So-to-Speak Supporters” who choose which parts of the Constitution to uphold and which parts not to uphold, and “Open Opponents” like truly radical rightists who feel that the current form of government is so corrupt that a new government with a new Constitution needs to be created. Neither party is perfect. Yes, the Republican Party is more Constitutionally-minded; but, there are Constitutionally-minded Democrats and Republicans that oppose the Constitution.
The Optimistic Conservative writes about whether Americans have the right to disobey Islamic law or not. As this individual points out, Americans are granted the undeniable freedom of religion. This includes religions – like Islam – that are out of the mainstream. So long as Islamic Law does not stand in the way of federal, state, and local laws and ordinances, Muslims are free to obey Islamic Law. Once Islamic Law oversteps, wholly disregards, or disobeys American law, Islamic Law may be deemed unlawful. Until that time, Muslims are free to practice their religion as granted them by the Constitution. As for non-Muslims, I agree with the author, we have the inherent right to disobey Islamic Law, just like Americans have the inherent right to disobey Jewish Law. This nation is not a theocracy, this nation is a democratic republic; this author would be wise to keep this in mind.
Why aren’t there any articles about Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, or George W. Bush? Surely understanding these individuals is just as important (if not more important) as understanding Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in gaining a better understanding of Presidents and conservatism throughout history. Postel’s brief article on Lincoln sheds light on a greater American problem plaguing both Republicans and Democrats. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have become the go-to Presidents whenever someone wants to defend an idea. Washington and Lincoln were both great men who did great things; but both were imperfect men as all men are. I am extremely conservative, and I for one and sick and tired of having Lincoln flaunted about as the conservative poster-child. It would be a toss-up between Lincoln and FDR as to who broke the Constitution more. Regardless of my beliefs, Postel’s article is based upon primary documents, something the Heritage Foundation prides itself in. I particularly enjoyed the Conservative Historian’s article on Teddy Roosevelt. TR, as with many presidents, is utilized to perpetuate most everyone’s ideas.
Ericksen’s article was an enjoyable read. His sentence “It is amazing that within a one week period the media went from speculating that right wingers were celebrating Hitler’s birthday on tax day to blaming Chechen nationalism to hearing the bomber say he was inspired by Islam to announcing it’s not him, it’s us to blame,” sums up conservative sentiments about what is wrong with the liberal media ruining this country. If the bomber had been a right wing extremist rather than an Islamic extremist, the media would be talking about this instance for months. Because the terrorist was yet another Muslim – “In the past decade we have seen that not all Muslims are terrorists, but just about every terrorist has been a Muslim – the media is blaming America? I would ask where the logic is behind this, but I already know the answer, there isn’t any. Longstreet’s article, while overtly passionate, political, and religious, brings up great topics regarding the current trends in America. Something is clearly going wrong, at least Longstreet is offering ideas of how to fix this once great nation.
History Education: Educational Resources, Posts by Teachers, Posts about Education
A Conservative Teacher provided great insights into historical education. I loved his ideas about a capstone project to end a World History class. I wonder how he chose the ten people, places, events, ideas… when handing out this assignment. Regardless, I absolutely loved the student examples he gave. Any student that likens Obama to Mark, Lenin, Mao, Hitler, and Napoleon need only add FDR into the mix to see how often “great men” fail throughout history. The best part of the first article was not the parts that got me to laugh, but the conclusion: “Students today, just like students in the past, are as smart, hard-working, intuitive, and creative as previous generations, as long as the previous generations get out of the way and let them be all that they can be.” Well put. History teachers need to allow students to think critically, form educated opinions, and become culturally literate members of society.
A Conservative Teacher’s assertion that a country will retain its national core regardless of the government’s attempts to “change” it is particularly comforting given the current regime’s constant attempts to “change” everything. I wonder what A Conservative Teacher would say about the government’s attempts at educational change? While I believe both Republican and Democratic Presidents have acted with the best of intentions in creating educational plans for America, most of these have failed rather miserably. How would A Conservative Teacher categorize or justify this? As for his article about state standards, I agree completely. Liberal indoctrination is ruining our schools. As more and more states adopt the Common Core Standards (a liberal-leaning, federal initiative to unify disparate state standards) misconceptions are furthered and less content is learned. This is not to say that conservatives are not doing the same thing, skimming the Texas State Standards will show the exact opposite trend.
After reading A Conservative Teacher’s article about McCarthyism, I know that I would have loved him as a teacher. He explained to his students that there is a conservative spin on McCarthyism and that there is a liberal spin on McCarthyism. By addressing biases, he is allowing his students to discover the truth while forming their own opinions. As for the “liberal” teacher’s notes he acquired, I think the teacher should be fired, unless he or she is teaching at Karl Mark High School for Socialist Minded Students Seeking Liberal Indoctrination. J
The lesson plan on Gun Rights has the makings of a great lesson plan. Both sides of the issue are presented and the majority of the questions allow the students to think critically. By this I mean that most of the questions are not leading or worded in a way that expects a specific answer. Seeing as the Second Amendment is the main point of this lesson, the teacher teaching the class would have to have a good understanding of the Constitution in order to effectively present the conservative opinion. Similarly, the teacher would have to have a good understanding of social change and progressive movements in order to effectively present the liberal opinion. As an educator that strives to present both sides of most every argument, I strive to be the ultimate generalist so I can understand and explain the main ideas behind most historical movements and ideas. All in all, this is a good lesson plan; whether or not this lesson is effective depends upon the teacher presenting the lesson.
The fact that a self-described “liberal, queer feminist” is teaching about the history of conservatism should be disheartening to all. During my undergraduate career, I had a white teacher from the middle of Nebraska who admitted that she never saw a person of color until she was 18. This teacher taught me Multicultural Education, a class about integrating multicultural ideas into “white” curriculum. This might shock you, but I got next to nothing out of this class. Teachers that are so one-sided should stick to teaching about general historical topics where they can insert their biases. As an aside, Potter could have left out the self-description, her biased opinions shaded the entire article. Potter casts conservatives as unintelligent, illogical, and radical. I am very glad that I was not subjected to this teacher’s poor explanation of history.
Klugewicz’s views on historical education run parallel to my own. The reason I am becoming a history teacher is to encourage students to think for themselves rather than accept the “facts” that are purported by liberal teachers attempting to indoctrinate their students. Too many teachers encourage nihilism when it comes to American history. Too often, liberals emphasize American evils like sexism, racism, industrialism… rather than teaching about the good parts of American history. Teachers need to inspire patriotism in their students. American children should be presented with a history they can be proud of. As such, historical educators should strive to present history in a manner that is true, but also in a manner that does not purposefully demean the United States every other page. Americans need to learn about the great things this nation has accomplished, not just the terrible atrocities it has supposedly committed. Why do we allow liberals, under the guise of diversity and liberal enlightenment, to dictate what our students learn? The Common Core Standards are sure to ensure liberals are able to maintain a hold on the educational standards our students are forced to learn within. Political correctness will be the death of this nation, education included. Why can’t liberals recognize that flawed human beings are able to be admired? After all, all people are by nature flawed. Just because a historical figure was racist, sexist, or elitism doesn’t mean everything they did was bad. Facts do not speak for themselves, humor needs to be integrating into historical curriculum, and reason must be maintained as subservient to truth.
Miscellaneous…Liberal Rantings about Conservatism
Hitt’s Conservative History of the United States contains quotes that are taken out of context and from individuals that strive for soundbytes that will land them publicity. My favorite “historically quoted event” on this absurd timeline is September 11th, 2001. According to Hitt, conservatives believe that nothing occurred on 9/11!! Any conservative will tell you that Islamic Terrorists attacked the United States of America on 9/11! That Hitt even thought to add this proves his lack of understanding of conservatism. I could do this with most of the events on this timeline. Hitt redefines ignoramus; this rivals Chauncey DeVega’s article as one of the most biased I have ever read. Hensatri opens his article with “It is the mark of an intellectually honest person that they will take the occasional moment aside from the heat of debate and seriously consider the position of their opponent.” He then proceeds to explain how he is such an intellectual. After his self-aggrandizement is over, he gets to the point of his argument: “Social Conservatives are always wrong.” How intellectual? How honest? How ridiculous! Nathaniel Strickland’s article highlights how big the gap has become between conservatives and liberals. This article makes me truly wonder whether the gap can ever be bridged.